Music Festivals of 08 wrap-up

Posted on July 15, 2008

So now that the season for the music festivals is over (for me, at least, because there’s still plenty out there to be enjoyed by those who can. The bastards!) ;-) here are my notes on it.

I attended both the second part of the Super Bock Super Rock festival (the part in Lisbon) and the Optimus Alive!08 festival. One particular evening I attended both of them. The stupidity of scheduling them both in Lisbon and on the same dates hasn’t yet ceased to amaze me (yes, I now all about the commercial interests at stake but no one can convince me that the pie wouldn’t be bigger for both of them if they did it in another way).

Anyway, on the 10th of July I went to the Alive! festival in the afternoon and stuck around until after the Rage Against the Machine concert and then took off to Super Bock Super Rock, where I still got to listen to Digitalism for some half-hour and then caught Tiesto’s full set (my main goal for going there).

Other than that anomaly, everything went really smoothly. I was devastated that Nouvelle Vague canceled (it’s the freaking third time I fail to see them live. Come on! Someone’s got it in for me for sure. A friend of mine told never to try and go to a Nouvelle Vague concert with her again because she would really like to see them and it seems it is impossible to do so when I’m around. It broke my heart!) ;-) but as far as Cansei de Ser Sexy is concerned I couldn’t care less that they didn’t do the show.

In the end, then, this is what I took from the festivals.

What I liked (and already knew I did)

  • Iron Maiden - UP THE IRONS! (not much else to say, read it here);

  • Vampire Weekend - They sound just as good on stage as they do on record and they put on a decent show. Can’t wait for their second album to either fall completely in love with them or to forget them;

  • Rage Against The Machine - You want to know what dynamite is? This is it!

  • The Gossip - What can I say? I liked them last year and I loved them this year. For this I was definitely front-and-center, where the action was;

  • Ben Harper - I’m a fan, so there’s not much I can tell that won’t sound like fanboy-ish praise. It was good. As it should be and it always is (this was my third concert). Dig it;

What I discovered and was a good surprise

  • Hercules and Love Affair - Good beats, very interesting sound. A friend-of-a-friend told me they sound even better with Anthony (of the “Anthony and the Johnsons” fame), but they were not with him there and I still liked them. A must-check, for sure;

  • Tiesto - voted best DJ in the world six years in a row…
    Well, I don’t know about that (I was really expecting something outstanding because of this factoid –what, I don’t really know), it didn’t blow me away all that much but it was still a very good set, it kept me dancing until the very end.
    But that ending was really weird, I guess he either had to stop because it was time (he stopped at 05h30 which was the time he was supposed to, but he began an hour later than scheduled) or else something went wrong, but either way that ending didn’t feel natural at all.
    Maybe electronic dance music really isn’t my strong suit. I liked it a lot, mind you, but this guy, being “the best in the world” left me wondering how bad the others can be… :-)

  • John Butler Trio - A great surprise indeed. I didn’t know these guys at all but they played an extra-long concert (to make up for part of Nouvelle Vague’s absence) and I was left with the will to go and check out more of their stuff on record;

  • Xavier Rudd - Another total stranger to me, I loved his music from the first moment. It is nothing short of amazing how he can transmit such calm and serenity with all of his songs, even the ones which have really high rhythmic beats.
    Very tribal in it’s essence, very “balanced”, very good;

  • Róisín Murphy - I never knew Moloko to begin with, so the description I was given (“she was Moloko’s singer”) didn’t tell me much at all.
    Well, it turns out this lady is amazing on stage. She sings and dances like nobody’s business.
    Left me breathless –and that’s from all the jumping and dancing, it had nothing to do with the t-shirt. OK, almost nothing. Well…

  • Donavon Frankenreiter - I already expected it to be a good concert, given the descriptions of his music I’d heard and read, but I’d never really listened to this guy. Turns out it was indeed a good concert with some very nice and smooth music;

What I didn’t particularly like

  • Gogol Bordello - They might be dynamite on stage, but I just can’t bring myself to enjoy the music enough to get up there, front and center and get into the mood to jump around like a madman to their songs. “This is not about you, it’s just me”;

  • Neil Young - I really tried to like his concert but I just couldn’t get into it for some reason. It wasn’t at all like Bob Dylan, mind you (read below), and he did end up with an amazing version of the Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” (which I would love to get my hands on a recording of), but in general the show just didn’t do anything for me;

What really sucked

  • Nouvelle Vague canceled;

  • The amazing whirlwinds of dust through almost all of the Alive! left all of us with sand and dust ingrained into our hair and clothes;

  • Bob Dylan - I’m so sorry, but I can’t be charitable here. Such a great artist as him (in his day) should get a clue and stop milking it when it gets as depressing as this.